Lagos State government’s appointment of a Caretaker Committee, known as Parks and Garages Administrators, has been nullified by a National Industrial Court.
Justice Maureen Esowe also reinstated the operations of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, in the state.
RTEAN had filed a lawsuit against the state government and other defendants for suspending its operations, taking over garages and appointing a caretaker body, known as the Parks and Garages Administrators.
The union through their counsel, Elisha Kurah, SAN, had argued that a state cannot interfere in the affairs of a trade union registered under the Trade Unions Act of 2004, adding that the state cannot dissolve the union, contending that such matters were handled by Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The state government however argued that they did not violate the law nor dissolve the national body’s operations in the state, but had sought to maintain law and order by creating the ad-hoc committee when violence ensued between the unions.
Ruling on the case, Justice Esowe dismissed the defendants’ preliminary objections to the suit, saying the matter was straightforward forward and that the court has jurisdiction to hear and determine, with no serious dispute to warrant an exchange of pleadings.
The judge held that the act of the Lagos State in suspending the National union’s operations in the state and setting up a caretaker committee was illegal and against the provisions of Sections 4 (1), (2)& (3), and 5 (1) &(3), read along with item 34 of the exclusive legislative list, of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The judge also held that the government and the Police should have intervened by arresting and prosecuting those behind the fracas and not inquiring into the dispute.
Lagos State government were further restrained from interfering with the operations of the union’s exco and ordered the police to refrain from intimidating the union’ s officers and to remove all barricades it imposed around their secretariat and grant them unfettered access to their offices.
It is expected that the Lagos State government and the Parks and Garages Administrators will study the judgment and act accordingly.